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On Writing: Getting To The Monkey


I think it’s rather amazing how the things we never see coming are sometimes the ones that end up effecting us the most. For years now, my husband and I have had differing tastes in music. While I stayed with the rawk-boys I’ve loved since I was a teenager, he has drifted off into the worlds of jazz, comedy, and classical. A lot of what he listens to is an absolute bore to me.

This has never been a secret between us.

So imagine my surprise when one day he says to me, “I think you’ll like this song.” The song that came on was King Kong by the group Tripod – a singing comedy outfit. The basis of the song is the 2005 version of King Kong and how, even though the movie was pretty good overall, it took awhile for it to really get going. As the audience, you’re there to see “the monkey” but a massive amount of time goes by before Kong makes his first appearance on screen.

The song goes on to cite more examples of movies that could have benefited from just “getting to the monkey”. It was this point – this silly lyric – that hit me hard as a writer. Instead of thinking the song was cute or clever (the reasons my husband wanted me to hear it) I, instead, thought, “Holy crap, they’re right! I have to get to the monkey!”

And so began a new perspective on my writing. I started to look at each chapter – at each scene – and think, “What’s this chapter’s purpose and how can I get to it without losing my reader? How can I get to the monkey?”

It’s made a world of difference. I find myself cutting characters, cutting scenes, dialogue and even whole chapters that were either not needed, or just extra filler that did nothing but keep the monkey off screen just a bit longer.

In those moments when I find myself rambling on paper, I hear the lyrics repeating in my mind: get to the monkey! And it helps. It helps me to focus and dissect what’s really important to the story.

As a fantasy author, I want to take my readers on a journey. I want them to feel the story, imagine the worlds, and relate to my characters. But most of all, I want them to see the monkey.

Inspiring song below:

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